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180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS? Any suggestions

  1. Oct 5, 2009 #1
    180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Hello, I am a semi recent-college graduate from (23 years old) and I have come to a very large cross road in my life. I have at the least, a substantial amount of student debt, somewhere in the range of $70,000. I have a degree in public relations from a school known for it's media program. When I was going into High School, I had no clue what I was getting myself into, I repeat no clue! I went to college to play football and have fun, I thought a degree in media relations would be good for the ego and that I may one day walk with the celebrities. 5 years later, I understand that I was living in some far off reality.

    I did some half-*** internship in college, and then had a real legit one in the world of public relations afterward. I found out pretty quickly that it was not for me.

    I have to make it clear that throughout all of my college career, I never, and I mean NEVER gave any serious thought as to why I was going to school, and what I wanted to do after I was done.

    All of that said, I want to go into something math related. I am not one of those folks that will go into great detail about how exceptional they are math, but I will say I was good enough to win many regional awards up until 8th grade, and then i sort of stopped going to classes, almost failed 9th etc. It's a long story.

    None the less I know I enjoy math, and have revisited all my algebras and trig just for fun and am working into calculus, (due to my rough start in High School) I only ever went to pre-calculus.

    At my PR firm, we had architects as clients, so I got into architecture, as I began shadowing at an architectural/engineering firm, my interest grew into civil engineering and i am now considering other forms of engineering. My dad is an astronomer and he thinks, 1. I am stupid for going to the school I did (expensive) 2. I should go back for physics.

    Assuming I have very little in the way of credits for any of these majors, what degree would be the quickest (math, science, or physics) which one would be the most profitable?

    Have you ever heard of anyone making such a dramatic shift?


    I want to thank you all so much for the replies. They are greatly appreciated.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2009 #2
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    I have a degree from a private VERY liberal arts college and am currently going back for math and physics nearly 10 years after graduating, so I've heard of such a dramatic shift. lol
    If you search these boards, you'll see that there is usually a thread at least somewhat along these same lines about once a day.
    If you're looking for most probable chance at solid income with just an undergrad degree, Engineering is probably the best bet.
    If you're looking for "quickest," you'll probably want to go Engineering too. Not because it will be quick or easy....in fact, there is usually a lot of course requirements for a degree, but you can earn a nice income without grad school.
    I don't have first hand knowledge, but I have planned for grad school since day one of my return to physics....I don't know that there is much chance at earning good money (actually doing physics) with just an undergrad degree. So don't expect a quick route there.

    Also, I'd imagine you would expect it, but succeeding in math and physics at the University level has been exceedingly more difficult than my Kinesiology degree. The material is difficult, the students are smart, and just about everyone is motivated and hard working.
    Since there typically ends up being some form of "bell curve" for grading, it is inevitable that many intelligent people that work quite hard end up doing "poorly" in math and physics.
     
  4. Oct 5, 2009 #3

    turbo

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    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    I went the other way - from Chemical Engineering to a double-major in English Lit and Philosophy, and never got a degree in any of it. If you have goals, don't always frame them in the ways that the Unis present them. The real world is shaped by efficiency and performance.
     
  5. Oct 5, 2009 #4
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Troponin, thanks for the quick reply. I guess it would help to look at some course curriculum, but off the top of your head, do you know if it is possible to go back and get an engineering degree in 2-3 years with my liberal arts degree (I am willing to go straight through with summers), or is it going to take the full 4-5 it would take for a freshmen?

    Thanks.
     
  6. Oct 5, 2009 #5
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Turbo, that said is it likely that I could get a job doing something at an engineering firm after my year of school and go part time until I finished. I know a public relations degree seems completely irrelevant, but there are a ton of things that PR specialists can do for the field of engineering. Many of us have become well versed in public speaking, writing pitches, and press releases. It is people with these skills that will get publications published in the science/trade magazines, and the news.
     
  7. Oct 5, 2009 #6
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    so i thought bell curves help poor students do well.
     
  8. Oct 6, 2009 #7
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    I only know my path for math and physics. I'll list my "path." Perhaps it will help give you an idea?
    The good thing about the liberal arts degree is that I pretty much have every humanity requirement that could ever be expected.
    Here's my course of action for the Physics degree:
    By semester:
    1: Calculus II
    Calculus III

    2: Modern Physics (with lab)
    Differential Equations
    Linear Algebra

    3: *Summer* Mathematical Proofs

    4: Vector Calculus and Complex Variables
    Physics I (yes, they're making me take it after doing well in modern physics) (with lab)
    Intro Sun and Solar System (with lab)
    Intro Stars and Galaxy (with lab)
    *this is my current semester*

    The astronomy courses are for a minor in Astronomy (which I'm now wondering was a correct choice).
    I'm meeting with a Physics professor tomorrow. I'm hoping to get Physics II waived from my requirements (the math dept. waived Calc I since I've scored well in more advanced courses). If they waive that, I'm hoping to be done within the year. I'll take Analytical mechanics, Thermodynamics, Astrophysics, and PDE's this winter. Then over the summer and next fall I'll take E&M, Waves and Optics, Quantum Mechanics, and Differential Geometry.
    I should be able to start applying for grad school then and take any remaining courses and maybe even a graduate course that last winter term.

    So, all together, that would put me at 3 school years to complete the degree. BUT, that is with only 5 total classes the first year...so I could have probably finished in 2 if I were going full time from day one.
     
  9. Oct 6, 2009 #8
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Yes, but in many advanced math and physics courses the "poor" students according to the bell curve are the students that were scoring near the top of their class in high school.

    'Poor' isn't really well-defined here. lol
     
  10. Oct 6, 2009 #9

    symbolipoint

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    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    sportsstar469 and troponin,

    college and university professors or instructors are smarter than to blindly follow a bell curve to force certain people at the bottom to fail. They use score data to find central tendency; some instructors rely on a strict predetermined scale of 90,80,70,60 percents for A,B,C,D. Would you really expect a group of students in a hard test for average of 75% that someone who scored 68% would earn a D or F? This would depend on the spread of the data, the judgement of the instructor, but if the grading system were strict 90,80,70,60, then such a score would certainly be in the D range (but again, instructor judgement might allow an occasional different choice on evaluation).
     
  11. Oct 6, 2009 #10
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    I have had people in my classes before who were 30 or older. Your liberal arts degree will knock off like 1 semester, maybe 2 or 3 depending on your schools requirements and the course load you can handle. Thats for physics though. Engineering is a more useful degree at B.S. level in my opinion.
     
  12. Oct 6, 2009 #11
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Physilab, Do you think my degree would knock off the same amount of time for engineering? or probably nothing. I feel like engineering has alot of applied classes from freshmen year up.
     
  13. Oct 6, 2009 #12
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    I'm not sure what you're saying here?
    There is a range of grades. If there weren't, everyone would get an A. Because not everyone gets an A....some people will get Bs. Some may get Cs. Some may even get Ds.

    Because of the nature of the subject and the students that pursue it, some of those students getting a C or a D will indeed be intelligent students. Some of those students may have also worked fairly hard in that course.

    As I stated, in advanced Math and Physics courses, there will be students that get a C (or any arbitrary grade that may be considered "poor") who were known as the "smart kid" their whole life.
    In the Feynman lectures, he talks about how some of the students will have to come to terms with being at the bottom half of their classes at Caltech. Because the students at Caltech were all near the top of their class in high school, it can be a difficult adjustment to score 'poorly' in a class despite being intelligent and working hard.

    Somebody has to be the top score, somebody has to be the low score. It's just how things are.
     
  14. Oct 7, 2009 #13
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Jordanjohnson, I feel I am in a very similar situation - only I'm not quite finished with my bachelors degree (in web design).

    I am ready to completely drop it to pursue physics and possibly electrical engineering even though I'm 'thisclose' to finishing. My debt is not quite that high but close...I've searched in vain for scholarships for second degrees but find that only federal loans are available if you already earned a degree. I may be misinformed, but this is driving my decision to ditch the current school and start all over if I have to.

    I'm sorry I can't provide much in the way of advice, but I am really interested in your journey and transition, please keep us posted.
     
  15. Oct 7, 2009 #14

    symbolipoint

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    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Regarding my post #9, Troponin wrote this response:
    I meant in other words, some grading systems use the resulting student scores to determine grade ranges, and other grading systems use a strict pre-determined scale. The instructor is not usually trying to arrange a grading system to force any students to fail. In a statistically determined method of grading, the instructor may make other judgements about broadening or narrowing the grade ranges. This would probably not be expected in strict 90,80,70,60 system (meaning 90% minimum A, 80% minimum B, ... etc.)
     
  16. Oct 7, 2009 #15
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Jordan, I'm not totally sure about this, but I believe that many schools will NOT count credits toward a second degree if the credits were used for the first degree. ie, if you used your credit hours for 'econ 101' for your first BS, then you cannot count those hours for a second BS (whether it is in physics or engineering).

    So if you go for a second bachelors, I think that most schools will not give you any credits to start with (unless you had more credits than you needed to graduate with your first BS). Meaning that you'll need to earn all 120 (or whatever) hours to get the second degree.

    Having said that, I'd suggest the engineering degree. It's a good combination of math and science. And has good earning potential with just a BS.

    Me, I went from:
    BS Physics--> MS Management of Sports Systems --> working as a physicist/electrical engineer currently

    So making big turns is not unheardof for people. Good luck.
     
  17. Oct 7, 2009 #16
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    y0tsubato - take a look at my post above, if the schools you are considering are as I describe, you may want to think hard about NOT finishing the web design and just switching. Just a consideration.
     
  18. Oct 7, 2009 #17
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Unfortunately, I think math, physics, and the sciences would take a lot longer than normal to obtain a second degree. I do know that you only need to do 30 - 40 credit hours for a second bachelors degree normally, but there are mathematical prerequisites you can't ignore for stuff like math, physics, engineering, comp sci.

    Calc 1 - 3, Linear algebra, Differential equations, Probability, and statistics. None of them are really hard in their own right, but it's a lot to fulfill. 5 - 7 classes depending on your university. Doing them while working might be difficult. Linear Algebra itself is kind of radical the first time you take it because it's the first time you're really asked to "prove" things using logic. Which is another course not required but helps immensely if you're going to study the sciences.

    Then there's the issue of funding. undergrad loans run out at 180 credit hours. If you reach that, you have to get into a graduate program to get more loans. With your level of debt it might be difficult to finish a second undergrad degree.

    I wonder if you might find a slightly easier masters program in your area where you can fulfill the necessary pre-reqs first, then enter the graduate program.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2009
  19. Oct 8, 2009 #18
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    ASK, I suppose that sucks because I am guessing that I already have around 130 credit hours. I have both a statistics, and a logic course from undergraduate work, I don't know if either of these would transfer in. I am fortunate enough to have california residency so I would only be paying about $400 for a full semester (15 units), also the cost of graduate school is very cheap here as well. It is approximately $1200.00/semester. So I would like to basically go back and get an associates at community college, and see if I can take the upper level classes at the school I want to do my graduate work at.

    Do you think it would take significantly longer to get my degree in engineering than it would math?

    Thanks for the replies.
     
  20. Oct 8, 2009 #19
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

    Jordan, what are your school requirements? For example, the school I am considering allows those with previous bachelor degrees to seek a second bachelor's--all general education requirements will be considered met. This might sound like the bee's knees but....

    Vector, I am slightly confused by your comment. Finishing my current degree program sounds almost ideal, but to think I will forfeit scholarship opportunities (nontraditional, minority, female seeking a STEM-relate degree) is sickening. Are you saying just go for the physics degree?
    Or, in light of the above info, just cut my losses and finish the web design?


    Jordan, I am sorry--I have no intention of hijacking your thread--I did start one a few days ago asking for advice! :blushing:
     
  21. Oct 8, 2009 #20
    Re: 180-LIBERAL ARTS TO ENGINEERING/MATH/PHYSICS?? Any suggestions

     
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